The odds show a clear-cut favorite for who will be named the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the National Hockey League’s best defenseman. The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to a defensive player who demonstrates the best all-around ability throughout the season.
Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche is the odds-on choice to win the award for the second straight season.
Makar recorded 28 goals and 58 assists for 86 points last season, with 34 of those points coming on the power play with a +48 rating. In just three NHL seasons, Makar has made the jump from Calder Trophy winner (best rookie in the NHL) to James Norris Memorial Trophy winner and favorite.
|Player||Odds to win James Norris Memorial Trophy|
Odds Courtesy: Bet365.com
Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi, and 2019-20 winner of the James Norris Memorial Trophy, is listed as the second favorite, but a long way away from the odds posted by Makar. Josi put up an incredible 96 points last season, leading all defensemen with 11 power-play goals.
Two-time Stanley Cup Champion and 2017-18 James Norris Memorial Trophy winner Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning is tied with Jost to bring home the hardware. Hedman finished last season just one point behind Makar, with 85 points.
The point total was the most Hedman has accumulated during his career. 2020-21 winner Adam Fox of the New York Rangers comes in next, as a group of six players hover around the +1000 range. Fox recorded a career-high 74 points last season, racking up 23 of them with the man advantage.
Tied with the same odds as Fox is Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins. McAvoy has steadily improved each year of his career. But for the oddsmakers to put him on the same level as the other players in this group seems like a bit of a stretch.
Don’t Rule Out Yet
The last player before the odds jump to more than +2000 is Aaron Ekblad (+1200) of the Florida Panthers. There is no denying Ekblad’s talent. But like McAvoy, he has yet to ever crack 60 points in his NHL career, and seems unlikely to be the winner of this award at season’s end.
A three-pack of players listed at +2200 appears to have more upside than those around the +1000 range. Moritz Seider of the Detroit Red Wings, who scored 50 points in his rookie season, looks like the real deal. He could make a huge leap into the James Norris Memorial Trophy conversation.
Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks enters his fourth full season, and at just 22 years of age, he seems poised to take another jump forward following his 68-point season.
Also coming in at +2200 is Miro Heiskanen of the Dallas Stars. Heiskanen is coming off a career-high 36 points in his fourth full season. At these odds, Seider and Hughes seem to have much more upside than Heiskanen.
Some other players to consider with longer odds are Morgan Reilly (+3500) of the Toronto Maple Leafs, John Carlson (+3500) of the Washington Capitals, and Seth Jones (+5000) of the Chicago Blackhawks.
No matter how you cut it, though, it appears this is Makar’s award to lose, and barring an injury or a major step backward in his career, it looks like he will be bringing home the award for the second straight season.
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